Marshall walked walked through the door of the barber shop, leaving the chill of the January street behind him. He was greeted by four shin-high Pomeranians yapping and pouncing at his jeans.

“Get over here!” came a voice from farther back in the shop. “They’re harmless; they’ve just got to get their noses into everything.” “Get over here I said.” She threw a fist full of sausage-shaped dog chews onto the green carpet. The dogs scurried towards the center of the room, snapping at the snacks and licking the carpet.

“Have a seat. The name’s Bev. Should be about ten minutes.”

Marshall walked into the room and sat in one of eight faux-leather office chairs that lined the dark paneled walls of the barber shop. Each chair had a buttons in the arm to control a series of vibrating massage features. Marshall passed, choosing instead to sit quietly, taking in the shop. He had never been there before, and, in fact, just moved to town two weeks ago.

The shop was long and narrow. In the storefront window were a jungle of tropical house plants, along with a make-shift miniature fountain–a saucer of water with a bubbler, a green LED, and device that puffed steam from the bowl, which condensed on the front window. The shop itself was a contradiction in decor–a mix of tropical accents, Nordic lodge, thrift store, and pet shop. An octagonal gold fish tank rested on the counter next to the black barber chair, a pair of snow shoes and three mounted, rubber novelty fish (that sang if one were to push the red button) adorned the side wall. Directly across from Marshall, hung a sign that read, “If it’s got testicles, don’t trust it.” Bev’s was one of two barbershops in town. Feeling a bit shaggy, Marshall rolled the dice on which shop to choose. He was having doubts about his choice.

Images of a cop sodomizing Ving Rhames’ character in Pulp Fiction flashed on the TV in the corner, flanked by potted palm trees on one side and a terrarium housing a green Iguana on the other.

“Ahh, shit! Look at that picture.” Bev stepped out from behind the gray-haired man sitting in the barber chair and limped closer to the TV at the front of the shop. Her right foot pointed out at a near-right angle as she walked. She thumbed a large remote control. The skin of her hand resembled that of the lizard in the terrarium–scaly and flaking dry. The top of her right wrist was spidery and bruised. “I pay a hundred and thirty bucks a month for satellite and I don’t even get a goddamn decent picture.”

The flat-panel screen flickered as she bounced through the channels. Landing on “Maury Povich,” she returned to the chair at the back of the shop.

Grabbing the man’s head with cupped hands by his ears, she physically cocked it left and then right. “Ahh, you’re done… Wait, let me get that zit on your nose. I’ve got nails.” Bev leaned in close to the man who sat still in the chair, as she dug her thumbnails, chipping with red paint, deep into the flesh of his nose. “There. Ok, seventeen’ll do it.”

“All right, you ready?” She was looking at Marshall. “Come on, honey, I don’t bite.” Marshall wasn’t so sure…